Dr Jason Birch

Jason Birch (DPhil, Oxon) is a historian of South Asian traditions of yoga and medicine. He is a Senior Research Fellow of the ‘Light on Hatha Yoga’ project, hosted at the University of Oxford and the University of Marburg; co-director of the Yogacintāmaṇi Project at the University of Massachusetts Boston; and a visiting researcher on the Suśruta Project at the University of Alberta. He is well known for his important paper on the meaning of haṭha in early Haṭhayoga, which has reshaped our understanding of the origins of this term by locating it within Buddhist literature. His dissertation focused on a seminal Rājayoga text called the Amanaska. Through extensive fieldwork in India and the reconstruction of primary sources, Birch has identified the earliest text to teach a system of Haṭhayoga and Rājayoga, namely the twelfth-century Amaraugha. His most recent publication has defined a corpus of Sanskrit and vernacular texts that emerged during Haṭhayoga’s floruit, the period in which it thrived on the eve of colonialism.

Jason has published several books, articles in academic journals, and critically edited and translated six texts on Haṭhayoga for the Hatha Yoga Project 2015–2020. He taught Masters courses and Sanskrit reading classes at SOAS and has given seminars on the history of yoga for MA programs at the Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, Won Kwang University in South Korea and Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. Jason is a founding member of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies and the Journal of Yoga Studies, and combines his practical experience of yoga with academic knowledge of its history to teach online courses with Jacqueline Hargreaves on The Luminescent.


2024. Āsanas of the Yogacintāmaṇi: The Largest Premodern Compilation on Postural Practice. Pondicherry, India: Institut Français de Pondichéry and École Française dʼExtrême-Orient.

2024. (with J. Mallinson, et al.) Critical edition and annotated translation of the Haṭhapradīpikā (online, beta version). Retrieved from: http://hathapradipika.online

2024. The Amaraugha and Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga. Pondicherry, India: Institut Français de Pondichéry and École Française dʼExtrême-Orient.

2023. (with D. Wujastyk, et al.) On the Plastic Surgery of the Ears and Nose: The Nepalese Recension of the Suśrutasaṃhitā. Heidelberg: Heidelberg Asian Studies Publishing. DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/hasp.1203

2023. (with J. Hargreaves.) “Premodern Yogāsanas and Modern Postural Practice: Distinct Regional Collections of Āsanas on the Eve of Colonialism.” In Yoga and the Traditional Physical Practices of South Asia: Influence, Entanglement and Confrontation, Eds. Daniela Bevilacqua and Mark Singleton. Journal of Yoga Studies (Special Issue): 31–82. DOI: https://doi.org/10.34000/JoYS.2023.V4.01.

2022. (with S.V.B.K.V. Gupta.) “The Ocean of Yoga: An Unpublished Compendium Called the Yogārṇava.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 50, 345–385 (2022). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-022-09504-6

2020. “The Quest for Liberation-in-Life. A Survey of Early Haṭha and Rāja Yoga.” In The Oxford History of Hinduism: Hindu Practice, Ed. Gavin Flood. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198733508.003.0009.

2020. “Chapter 19 Haṭhayoga’s Floruit on the Eve of Colonialism.” In Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions: Essays in Honour of Alexis G.J.S. Sanderson, Ed. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. Chapter 19: 451–479. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004432802_021

2019. (with M. Singleton.) “The Yoga of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati: Haṭhayoga on the Cusp of Modernity.” Journal of Yoga Studies, Vol. 2 (2019): 3–70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.34000/JoYS.2019.V2.002

2019. “The Amaraughaprabodha: New Evidence on the Manuscript Transmission of an Early Work on Haṭha- and Rājayoga.” Journal of Indian Philosophy, 47 (2019): 947–977. Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-019-09401-5

2018 (submitted 2013). “The Proliferation of Āsana-s in Late Mediaeval Yoga Texts.” In Yoga in Transformation, Eds. Karl Baier, Philipp A. Maas, Karin Preisendanz. Vienna: V&R Vienna University Press. Chapter 3: 101–180.

2018. “Premodern Yoga Traditions and Ayurveda: Preliminary Remarks on Shared Terminology, Theory and Praxis.” History of Science in South Asia, Vol. 6 (April): 1–83. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18732/hssa.v6i0.25

2015. “The Yogataravali and the Hidden History of Yoga.” Namarupa Magazine, Issue 20 (Spring 2015).

2013. “The Amanaska: King of All Yogas. A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation with a Monographic Introduction.” PhD thesis, University of Oxford. Retrieved from: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:4edd5abe-0aa6-4c52-96d2-c4acfce1ad60

2013. “Rājayoga: The Reincarnations of the King of All Yogas.” The International Journal of Hindu Studies 17, 3: 401–444. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11407-014-9146-x

2011. “The Meaning of haṭha in Early Haṭhayoga.” The Journal of the American Oriental Society 131, no. 4 (2011): 527–54. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41440511.

2011. “Universalist and Missionary Jainism: Jain Yoga of the Terāpanthī Tradition.” In Yoga in Practice, Ed David White, University of Chicago Press.

Some of Jason’s work can be downloaded from his academia.edu webpage.

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